Preferential Voting – Single Member (AV)

Western Australian Legislative Council Calculators Launched

Today I have launched my Legislative Council calculators for the Western Australian election.

You can find the calculators for each region at this link, an explanation of how they work on this page, and links to the group voting tickets for each region over here.

At the 2017 election, more than 95% of votes in all six regions were cast as single ‘1’ above the line tickets, meaning those votes were counted according to each party’s lodged group voting tickets.

The asymmetry of effort between casting a single ‘1’ for a party above the line, or laboriously numbering more than 50 preferences below the line, herds voters into accepting the preference deals and voting above the line for a single party. That sends their vote off on a preferential magical mystery tour across the ballot paper.

As usual there are complex micro-party preference harvesting deals, though not as locked together as at some previous elections. Each of the micro-parties has been allocated a region in which they will be favoured. These are – Read More »Western Australian Legislative Council Calculators Launched

Candidates, Informal Voting and Optional Preferential Voting

In the final week of parliamentary sittings, Queensland LNP Senator James McGrath tabled the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM’s) inquiry into the conduct of the 2019 Federal election. (You can find the report here.)

One of the controversial proposals in the report, and one opposed by Labor and Green members of JSCEM, was a recommendation to move from full or compulsory preferential voting (CPV) to optional preferential voting (OPV) for House of Representatives elections.

The report provides few arguments in favour of OPV. The recommendation for OPV appears suddenly at the end of a brief discussion on informal voting, in particular noting the impact OPV’s use at NSW elections has on informal voting at Federal elections. Senate McGrath presented a different argument for OPV when tabling the JSCEM report in the Senate, referring to OPV as a measure “to maximise voter choice”.

I’ve written on OPV many time previously, and I would suggest reading this post I wrote in 2013 after a previous suggestion from the Coalition about introducing OPV.

Informal voting will always be higher under compulsory preferential voting because ballot papers with faulty numbering have few options for salvation available. This compares with OPV where ballot papers with incomplete, duplicate or missing numbers, or completed with a single tick or cross, can count for candidates to the extent that a voter’s intent is clear.Read More »Candidates, Informal Voting and Optional Preferential Voting

Minor Party Preference Flows at the 2020 Queensland Election

(Note: This post was originally published on 1 November but has been fully updated on 18 November to include data available from later data files. I have also published further comments on preferences, in my final analysis of the 2020 Queensland election results.)

The Electoral Commission Queensland collected preference flow data by candidate as part of its election night count, and continued with the tallying in some electorates in the days that followed..

Preference flow data tallies votes by pairings of ‘from’ and ‘to’ candidates. So in the table below of two-party preferred preference flows, the tally is of votes from third parties that flowed as preferences to Labor or Liberal candidates.Read More »Minor Party Preference Flows at the 2020 Queensland Election

Eden-Monaro By-election – Preferences and Commentary on the Result

The final data dump of results from the Eden-Monaro by-election has been published, including the distribution of preferences and data on preference flows by party. You can find all the data at the AEC website.

In this post I want to look at final flows of preferences, were there differences caused by when people voted, how did the count unfold on election night, and was it a good result for Labor?
Read More »Eden-Monaro By-election – Preferences and Commentary on the Result

Preference Flows at the 2018 South Australian Election and the Influence of How-to-Votes

The 2018 South Australian election saw a record vote for minor parties. This was largely due to the campaign by Nick Xenophon and his SA-Best party, polling 14.2% in the House of Assembly, a creditable 18.4% in the 26 seats it contested. The failure of the party to poll as strongly as published polling well out from the election suggested, or to elect a member to the Assembly, saw its campaign labelled a failure by political commentators.

In the end the party was used by voters as a conduit for preferences to the Liberal and Labor Parties. As you would expect for a party viewed by voters as sitting in the political centre, the party’s preferences split evenly, 51.6% to the Liberal Party and 48.4% to labor.

The release of preference flow data by the SA Electoral Commission provides an opportunity to analyse preference flows against party preference recommendations. Several unique features in the conduct of SA House of Assembly elections allows the comparison of preference flows with how-to-votes lodged by candidates and displayed in voting compartments.Read More »Preference Flows at the 2018 South Australian Election and the Influence of How-to-Votes

South Australian Government Proposes Optional Preferential Voting

In proposing that South Australia adopt optional preferential voting for House of Assembly elections, the Marshall government is highlighting democratic principles in favour of making preferences optional. But you don’t have to be cynical to see that in backing principle, the SA Liberal Party is also backing its own self-interest.

Since 1982 there have been 26 South Australian electoral contests where a candidate trailing on first preferences won. Of these, 14 were won by Labor, 11 by Independents or minor party candidates, and just one by the Liberal Party. (Newland in 1989).Read More »South Australian Government Proposes Optional Preferential Voting

Should How-To-Votes be Banned at Australian Elections?

Australian is unusual among western democracies in permitting active campaigning outside polling places on election day.

Despite sharing much electoral heritage with Australia, New Zealand sits at the opposite end of the election day campaigning spectrum. Not only are all forms of election day campaigning banned, but all signs erected in the campaign must be removed before election day.

On regulating election day campaigning, most countries sit nearer New Zealand than Australia. Election day is viewed as a time for considered contemplation by voters, not as an opportunity for boisterous last day campaigning.

Australia also has some of the world’s most complex methods for completing ballot papers. Almost all countries use a single cross to vote, some a second cross, and some have a limited form of preferential voting. Some countries, notably the USA, complicate simplicity by holding multiple elections on the same day.

Only Australia requires voters to complete a sequence of numbers for every square on the ballot paper under rules with no allowance for error.

And no other country compels voters to engage with such a complex voting system on pain of being fined.

Thanks to compulsory voting, polling places are the last chance candidates have to engage with undecided and disinterested voters who in other countries probably wouldn’t turn up to vote.

And thanks to full preferential voting, candidates and parties that have attracted a primary vote have enormous interest in ensuring that voters correctly number all other squares to complete a formal vote.Read More »Should How-To-Votes be Banned at Australian Elections?

Greens Preference Against Labor in Johnston By-Election

In what is a rare move, the Greens have chosen to direct preferences against Labor at the Northern Territory’s Johnston by-election, to be held on Saturday 29 February.

In the past the Greens have often chosen to make no preference recommendation, but to actively recommend preferences to conservative parties ahead of Labor is very unusual.

The decision is attracting a lot of attention to an otherwise obscure local by-election in an electorate of just 4,988 voters in the northern suburbs of Darwin. If you are after more information on the Johnston by-election, check my background page at the ABC’s Election website.

The decision has started arguments back and forth between Labor and Green partisans, but i’ll leave it to participants to argue the subjective point of whether the decision is right or wrong in policy and/or strategic terms.

But that leaves plenty of room to examine whether the decision is important to how preferences will flow, to the result of the Johnston by-election, and to the Northern Territory election in August.

Update At the by-election, 56.9% of Green voters gave preferences, around 20 percentage points lower than the usual flow of Green preferences. You can find my commentary on the result and preferences at my Johnston by-election page.
Read More »Greens Preference Against Labor in Johnston By-Election

Preference Flows at the 2019 Federal Election

The 2019 House of Representatives election saw a record vote for minor parties, and as a consequence, a record number of seats where preferences needed to be distributed.

As has been the case for three decades, the Labor Party benefited most from preferences, both in flows of preferences and in seats won from second place. But matching the decline in Labor’s first preference support in 2019, preference flows to Labor were weaker than at any election since 2001.

As in the past, Green preferences overwhelmingly favoured Labor, though it was a different story with other parties. The United Australia Party and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation polled 6.5% between them, but where previously preferences flows from both parties had only weakly favoured the Coalition, in 2019 voters for both parties had a clearer preference for the Coalition over Labor.
Read More »Preference Flows at the 2019 Federal Election